A 60-year-old woman suffering from COVID-19 died in an ambulance while allegedly waiting to be admitted to a private hospital on Eastern Metropolitan Bypass Road in Kolkata. The family members alleged that the hospital authorities demanded Rs three lakh from the kin for admission into the Hospital.
The deceased hails from Tamluk in East Midnapore district and the alleged incident took place on Monday night. The woman was brought to the hospital from a nursing home in the city after she tested positive and reported severe health problems, said a Kolkata Police official.
Her son Nazeem Khan has lodged a police complaint against the hospital at Anandapur police station, the official added.
“The hospital authorities asked us to deposit Rs three lakh. We managed to pay Rs 80,000 and requested them to start my mother’s treatment assuring them to get the remaining amount in the meantime. But the hospital told us that treatment will not be started unless the full payment was made,” Mr Khan was quoted by news agency PTI.
Later, Rs two lakh more was transferred to a bank account of the hospital by the woman’s elder son Latif Khan from Abu Dhabi, he said.
“But by then my mother had passed away in the ambulance… We repeatedly requested the hospital to send a doctor to her, but its authorities insisted that unless they see a proof that the money was transferred to them, nobody from it would attend to my mother,” added the son of the deceased.
“If they (hospital authorities) had attended to my mother on time, she could have been saved,” a sobbing Mr Khan said.
Another relative said to reporters: “the hospital authorities asked us to pay Rs 3 lakh to admit her. She died while we were trying to arrange the money. We had already told the hospital that the patient’s condition was critical and the family would soon deposit the amount.”
The hospital authorities have denied the charge and said that the woman’s family was given an estimate for treatment but not pressurised for making payments.
Refuting the charge, a senior official of the hospital said that the patient was brought in a very serious condition. Doctors had tried CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) in the ambulance but could not revive her.
According to Indian Express, while the relatives blamed the hospital for the death, hospital authorities denied the claim saying the patient was already dead before reaching the hospital.
The Police have launched a probe into the incident and the hospital has been asked to provide the CCTV footage. The deceased had also recently lost her husband to Covid-19.
In a similar incident in Howrah, a man was allegedly asked to pay Rs 51,000 after he wished to see his father, who had succumbed to coronavirus. “When we reached the hospital, we were told that the body was already sent for cremation. We were asked to pay Rs 51,000 to see the body,” said deceased’s son Subhash Gupta to a newspaper.
The family members saw the body after allegedly paying Rs 2,500 following negotiation.